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Engel Floor Remarks on Combating Terrorism

Nov 2, 2017
Press Release

– As Delivered –

WASHINGTON—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today made the following remarks in support of the Foreign Terrorist Organization Passport Revocation Act of 2017(H.R.425):

“Thank you, Mr. Speaker.  I rise in strong support of this measure and I yield myself as much time as I may consume.

“Mr. Speaker, as a New Yorker, my heart aches today. The appalling loss of life on the streets of Manhattan yesterday is a reminder that terrorism remains a threat that demands our focus.

“Confronting violent extremism requires sound, reasoned policies—policies proportional to the threat; policies based on good intelligence, careful analysis, and a clear understanding of what we’re up against—not policies based on hysterical reactions or biases against certain faiths or nationalities.

“I support this bill, because it will ensure that the State Department has the tools to prevent American terrorists from traveling abroad or returning to our country.  Under this legislation, the Secretary of State could refuse to issue a passport or revoke a passport for any American who’s provided assistance to foreign terrorist organizations. 

Importantly, it also affords anyone affected the right to an appeals process, helping to ensure due process rights.

“This bill is just common sense. It’s also a vital aspect of the fight against terrorism. We don’t want known threats crossing our borders—or slipping from country to country anywhere in the world.

“Now, the bill we’re considering today would not have, obviously, prevented yesterday’s attack. But this is important.  This is just a piece of a larger strategy.

“The President yesterday called our judicial system which would prosecute the perpetrator of yesterday’s attack a joke and a laughing stock. I beg to disagree. That’s our judicial system which successfully prosecuted ‘Shoe Bomber’ Richard Reid; Ramzi Yousef, the 1993 World Trade Center bomber; Faisal Shahzad, the Times Square bomber; and Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law in March 2014.  

“Mr. Speaker, the judicial branch has done quite a good job in prosecuting terrorists. Let’s show them a little confidence and give credit where credit is due. 

“But friends, this is deadly serious. The man suspected in yesterday’s attack was reportedly radicalized after he arrived in the United States. We’ve seen this before, in San Bernardino and Orlando. ISIS inspires its adherents from thousands of miles away. 

“That’s a problem. And just as this bill gets at a narrow, specific potential vulnerability, policies to deal with homegrown extremists and terrorists should take a hard look at causes, and take appropriate actions to prevent this sort of radicalization on American shores.

“We won’t solve this problem by slamming shut America’s front door and clamping down on immigration.  In fact, doing so just contributes to the terrorist’s ideological ammunition and recruitment efforts.

“These, there are proven ways to combat terrorism, but demonizing a religion or chipping away at constitutional rights won’t work. Those approaches play right into the tactics terrorists use to radicalize vulnerable Americans, making us less safe and less free.

“So I want to thank Representatives Poe and Keating, who leads our Subcommittee on the Foreign Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on Terrorism. 

“This bipartisan bill gets at a real concern in the fight against terrorism.  I’m pleased to support it.  And I reserve the balance of my time.  And with all due respect to Mr. Poe, that’s just the way it is.”

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